Conferences like the Gathering of Games are incredible opportunities to expand your knowledge base, find solutions to business challenges and build lasting connections with professionals who share common values and goals. But, as is true of daily life, if you don’t structure your time wisely, chances are it won’t be as well spent as possible. What’s your game plan for maximizing your experience at the Gathering of Games this year? Don’t have a strategy yet? Read on…
Think about the story behind the numbers you invest in attending conferences and events. With the cost of registration, accommodations, and the lost productivity of being out of the office, participation isn’t cheap. Why not maximize your experience to generate more return on investment (ROI) on attendance? If you’re going to invest time and money into attending a conference, having a strategy for how you’re spending your time, learning, and building new relationships is a must.
Networking -- or as we call it internally "making new friends" -- is part of a conference’s DNA. In today’s digital world, there is nothing more powerful than face-time to further a relationship or make a strong first impression. Hundreds of conversation starters are built into the framework of these events to set you up for meaningful relationship building.
Why the Gathering of Games?
The Gathering brings together teams from eclectic industries with a shared passion for open-book financials and training their people to understand and impact the Critical Numbers™. With such a niche group, chances are you’ll have aligned values and vision with other Gathering attendees, making building lasting relationships easier. As a generalist event, the Gathering has appeal for cross-functional members of an organization, from front-line employees to the leadership team. Whether you’re interested in getting advice, sharing stories, or doing business with other Great Game practitioners, come to the conference ready to open up and build connections.
What does a successful conference experience look like? Defining success will help you measure ROI and determine your approach to future events. While at the event, keep any questions you hope to have answered, people you’d like to meet, and challenges you’d like to overcome top-of-mind. Reminding yourself what you came will help you stay focused and strategic with your time and energy. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the conference when you arrive and forget the reasons you attended in the first place. If you’re not naturally a social butterfly, conference environments can be overwhelming, making it difficult to invest the energy into meeting new people and processing new ideas. Write down your goals, questions, and definition of success before you leave the office. Keep those objectives handy throughout the event as reminders and motivators.
Start Early and Do Your Research
Once your goals are set, create a logistical plan for how you can accomplish them. If multiple people from your company are attending, schedule some time to talk about how you can help each other out collectively. Some topics to discuss with your group include:
- What sessions are being offered? Of those sessions, how can you attend the most relevant ones given the times they are offered and which member of your organization makes most sense to attend? Don’t be afraid of dividing and conquering!
- Which sponsors and speakers are attending? If someone is particularly interesting, connect with them on social before the event to start building the relationship early.
- What questions do people from your company who are not attending have that might be answered at the Gathering of Games?
- What’s your company elevator pitch? Does everyone attending the Gathering know how to confidently share the story of who your organization is and why you play the Great Game? Even if they aren’t a member of the sales team, everyone should know how to be a brand advocate.
- Map out your conference schedule to ensure all the gaps are filled and you’re able to attend all of your top-priority sessions, events, and outings.
Stay in Contact
Don’t fall into the common trap of letting all your hard work be for not. Make sure you have a follow-up plan in place before you go to the event. Have a strategy for storing contact information and reach out within two weeks. There’s no worse feeling than meeting great people and letting those connections grow stale because you waited too long to reach out. At minimum, make sure you’re adding new contacts to LinkedIn and other appropriate social networks.
Maximizing your time at the Gathering of Games can take effort, but having a thoughtful strategy in place can create valuable new relationships, solve challenges, and give your team the confidence and resources to amplifying their game-play when they return to the office.
Still have questions? Learn more from 26th Annual Gathering of Games sponsor, Red Caffeine, at their booth in Dallas September 5-7.